Hugh Smith’s let­ter from IS­LAY

The Oban Times - - News -

Head­lin­ing a star-stud­ded ar­ray of tal­ent at this year’s La­gavulin-spon­sored Is­lay Jazz fes­ti­val was the cel­e­brated sax­o­phon­ist and bass clar­inet­tist, Court­ney Pine.

The Lon­don-born mu­si­cian, who was sup­ported by pi­anist, Zoe Rah­man, played to a sold- out house at La­gavulin.

Ionad Chaluim Chille Ìle hosted the New Swing Trio and lo­cal group 95 Roots and was also the set­ting for a fur­ther ap­pear­ance by Court­ney and Zoe who were joined on this oc­ca­sion by pi­anist En­rico Zanisi.

The Blueswa­ter Quar­tet re­placed the in­dis­posed Jedd Pots and the Hill­man Hun­ters at Bruich­lad­dich hall, the Rhinns hall hosted the Alan Barnes Quar­tet, Rose Room en­ter­tained at Laphroaig and Ard­beg dis­til­leries and tributes were paid to jazz great, Chet Baker, at the Port Mòr es­tab­lish­ment at Port Char­lotte.

The Gaelic Cen­tre wel­comed the Gus Stir­rat Band, the Fat- Suit gigged at Bowmore hall and pi­anists Zanisi and McCready did their bit at the RSPB cen­tre at Gru­inart. Brass Gumbo beat their drums at La­gavulin and Bruich­lad­dich dis­tillery and the lo­cal vil­lage hall was the set­ting for ap­pear­ances by the Jim Mullen Trio and the Mario Caribe Quin­tet.

Di­a­geo’s La­gavulin Dis­tillery con­tin­ues to be the head­line spon­sor of the fes­ti­val which has been run­ning since 1999. It also en­joys back­ing from Ar­gyll and Bute coun­cil and Cre­ative Scot­land and is pro­moted by Jazz Scot­land in con­junc­tion with the Is­lay Arts As­so­ci­a­tion.

Aly and Phil on form

A full-house au­di­ence was clam­our­ing for more when the tra­di­tional mu­si­cal duo of Aly Bain and Phil Cun­ning­ham, along with vo­cal­ist, Ewan Hen­der­son, put on a foot-stomp­ing, rum­bus­tious pro­gramme at Port Ellen’s Ram­say Hall as part of the Blas Fes­ti­val 2015.

Fid­dler Aly and ac­cor­dion­ist Phil were in top form as they per­formed a var­ied se­lec­tion from their ex­ten­sive reper­toire.

Lochaber’s Ewan Hen­der­son was in splen­did voice as he en­ter­tained with pop­u­lar Gaelic songs and the co-founder mem­ber of the group ‘Màn­ran’ also showed his fid­dling skills as he joined Aly and Phil in the rous­ing fi­nale.

Shar­ing the en­ter­tain­ment with the vis­it­ing mu­si­cians were the tal­ented young­sters from the Fèis Òi­gridh Ìle ‘s Dhiùra who kept up the tempo set by the pro­fes­sion­als.

Is­lay inn a gold star

The owner and staff at the Bal­ly­grant Inn and Res­tau­rant ( pic­tured right) are walk­ing tall af­ter the is­land hostelry re­ceived the top ac­co­lade of ‘ whisky bar of the year’ awarded an­nu­ally by the ‘Dram’ mag­a­zine.

Pro­pri­etor David Graham and his son, Ewan, re­ceived their award at a re­cep­tion hosted by the East Kil­bride co­me­dian and pre­sen­ter, Craig Hill, in Glas­gow’s Hil­ton Ho­tel.

The com­pe­ti­tion, now in its 20th year, at­tracted over 4,000 nom­i­na­tions and the judg­ing panel mem­bers were greatly im­pressed by the ho­tel’s ex­cel­lent whisky bar. They also noted the high stan­dard of ser­vice pro­vided and the hote­liers’ al­most in­fec­tious en­thu­si­asm and knowl­edge of the ‘ wa­ter of life’.

David and Ewan were de­lighted to re­ceive this pres­ti­gious award.

‘This award’, said David, ‘is a feather in Bal­ly­grant and Is­lay’s cap and will hope­fully en­cour­age more visi­tors and tourists to seek out the is­land and en­joy the hos­pi­tal­ity and de­lights it has to of­fer’.

Hugh Smith, 4, Flora Street, Bowmore, Is­lay PA43 7JX. Tele­phone: 01496 810 658.

HIGH NOTE: Court­ney Pine

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